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Cognex sells surface inspection business to Ametek for $160m

09 June, 2015

Cognex is selling its Surface Inspection Systems Division (SISD) to Ametek for around $160m in cash. California-based SISD produces software-enabled vision systems used to inspect the surfaces of continuously processed materials for flaws and defects. Its sales last year were worth $60m, or 12% of Cognex’s total revenue.

Cognex’s president and CEO, Robert Willett describes the sale as a strategic decision. “SISD is a profitable and well-managed business, but it does not fit Cognex’s long-term objectives and business model,” he adds. “With this sale, we can focus all of our efforts on discrete manufacturing where we see continued strong growth for our vision and ID products.”

The SISD business is joining Ametek’s Electronic Instruments Group (EIG), which had sales worth $2.4bn in 2014 and is a leader in the design and manufacture of instruments for the process, aerospace, power and industrial markets.

“We are excited about the opportunity to acquire such an outstanding business,” says Frank Hermance, Ametek’s chairman and CEO. It “expands our presence in this attractive market segment. Among SISD’s strengths are its proprietary high-speed defect recognition technology, software algorithms and deep applications knowledge base”.

Cognex entered the surface inspection market in 1996 when it acquired Isys Controls, which had developed vision systems that detect and classify flaws and defects on the surfaces of materials as they are produced continuously at high speeds.

Cognex's surface inspection business maps defects across an entire surface

Cognex has built the business from an organisation that was primarily selling into the US metals market, into a global supplier of surface inspection systems for the metals, paper, plastics, non-wovens and glass industries. The in-line image processing technology detects, classifies, filters and maps defects over an entire surface.

Since it was founded in 1981, Cognex has shipped more than a million vision-based products, representing over $4bn in cumulative revenue.

Ametek is a global manufacturer of electronic instruments and electromechanical devices with annual sales worth $4bn.

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